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Saturday, 26 May 2007

Continental Air Lines Flight 11

Hi all.
Well never having blogged before I apologize in advance for any mistakes or waffling that you may find here.

Basically I'm a 23 year old in Auckland, New Zealand. I'm also an aviation enthusiast. I happened to come across the tragedy of Continental Air Lines Flight 11 one day when scanning the aviation safety network site. After checking out many of the facts of the crash I often wondered why there wasn't more about it. I am also shocked to find no memorial in the vicinity of the crash. It seems that so much time has moved on that there is nothing on the web from anyone who remembers the crash or from anyone who lost someone on the flight.

After all it was the very first sabotage of a commercial jet airliner in the world. The plane, a 1959 Boeing 707-124 (N70775) was carrying 45 passengers and crew (37 passengers and 8 crew). A scheduled flight, CO 11 left Chicago's O'Hare International Airport just after 8:30pm on the night of May 22nd 1962 bound for Los Angeles with an intermediate stop at Kansas City Downtown Airport.

A bomb, placed by Thomas G. Doty in the lavatory exploded at sometime between 9:17 and 9:22pm and the aircraft suffered a rapid decompression and descent. The pilots donned their masks and begun a controlled descent to safe altitude. The tail of the plane separated however, and the forward section and main fuselage went plummeting to the ground, tearing off the four powerful engines with the sheer force of the descent.

Wreckage rained down from south of Cincinnati to Unionville, Missouri where the major sections of the aircraft crashed. One passenger managed to survive that terrible night but died early the next morning from his injuries. He was 27 year old Takehiko Nakano, an engineer from Illinois.

HARDLY ANYTHING is available on the net regarding this crash and the families of the victims that were on-board. There is nothing on Thomas G. Doty either. He had a five-year old daughter and was married. That's that. It seems he had become depressed, taken out excessive life insurance then boarded the flight. The bomb detonated indicating that at some stage during the flight or perhaps even before take-off, Doty had visited the lavatory to place the bomb inside one of the wast-towel bins.

What I find amazing is that forty-five years after the crash and there appears to be no memorial in the area for it. Unionville, Missouri is isolated and sparsely populated. I often wonder if the aircraft had come down in Cincinnati would more have survived? Indeed the plane was not reached for hours after it crashed because of confusion as to where it's specific resting place was.

I often wonder what it would have been like back in 1962 for the families and friends waiting for loved ones to come off that flight; the thought that they had been blown out of the sky must have been awful, and in such a lonely spot of Missouri, right in the middle of the USA. We try to forget plane crashes, but 45 years on there must be relatives of those who died who are still grieving from what happened all those years ago. Many may have moved on. Indeed history seems to have passed them by entirely. The scarcity of information is testament to this. No one has ever come out and said "My dad/mother/wife/son/daughter was on that plane all those years ago". Searches through the archives of "The Daily Iowegian" reveal little except for articles published in the days following the crash. More recent articles by the same newspaper have been full of inaccurate information. 45 years on and CO Flight 11 must be fresh to someone...you can never fully forget the circumstances of someone's death, particularly when it was so tragic, sudden and lonely as this was.

At the time it was thought a violent storm had brought the aircraft down. The weather in the area on the night of the crash was poor with tornadoes and thunderstorms predicted. Flight 11 had requested route deviations to vector around the storm shortly before the explosion and subsequent crash.

My blog here is simply to state two things: Why is there no memorial? and Why so little information on what seems to be such a tragic (and historical) crash?

The Accident Report is rather sad to read. The crew seems to have done all they could when the explosion happened; many of the passengers were important businessmen and the cabin crew were all very young. The plane itself was a pioneering jet-liner that ushered in the age of jet travel and back in 1962, a 707 would have been the very pinnacle of luxury, comfort and technology.

We will never know what went on in the cabin that evening, what was served, what was said and done but we do know that innocent lives were lost and a flagship aircraft for Continental Airlines was deliberately destroyed.

Whether or not Doty's widow was ever hounded after the crash is also not known. Indeed there seems to be no record in newspapers from anywhere in the USA regarding the finding and naming of Doty as the culprit after the investigation into the crash.

May those passengers and crew rest in peace. 45 years is a long time. They are gone but hopefully not forgotten.

If anyone has any further information regarding Continental Airlines Flight 11 please contact me: dhcomet@gmail.com or simply blog me. I know it may seem odd that I have such an interest in such an old tragedy but my point-of-view comes from an aviation historical background and also one of sheer disbelief that none of the souls on board seem to be recognized or remembered in a memorial in the area.

As an update...MANY friends and family of victims have contacted me recently with information regarding CO11. It has been such a pleasure to deal with all of you and to hear your often harrowing recount of 1962. Recent developments to the NOT-forgotten CO11 crash include a push by locals for a memorial in the area. There are now more people involved than ever before in reviving the memory of this historical air crash.

68 comments:

Giles Charlton said...

Really interesting and so suprised that I've never heard of this crash. Well done for bringing it to light and remembering the forgotten victims.

Joe Bruce said...

I was scheduled on that flight. I worked for Collins Radio Company in Cedar Rapids, IA. One of their company planes, a Beech 18 was to fly me to O'Hare to connect to the flight.

That afternoon, I was called by the company travel office to tell me that I would be flown instead by their plane to Kansas City to connect to a flight to LAX. I didn't know about flight 11 until the next day after I got home to Orange County. And it was a stormy night.

I never knew the reason for my change of travel plan by the company.

That change allowed me to father a Navy pilot and major airline pilot and an author and film producing daughter. I have always been grateful for that flight change which allowed me to live for at least another 46 years at least. And I have often thought about those that had no chance.

I did know a flight attendant (from high school) on United Airlines Flight 629, which was bombed near Longmont Co. in 1955. The bomber was caught and executed.

Wader said...

My husband's uncle was the pilot, Fred Gray. We have also wondered why it is never mentioned or discussed in news programs.

Fredianne said...

Fred Gray was my father. I know him only through my family and the Continental pilots and their families. My mother was pregnant with me when he was killed. She never forgot and never recovered. Nor will I ever forget. The people who make up Continental are fine men and women. I've never thought once that Continental sucks. I've thought the opposite.

white said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Maureen Hamilton Riordan said...

My dad was a passenger on Flight 11-he was on a businss trip. I was 11 years old. I was the oldest of 5 kids my youngest sister was 11 months old. It was impossible for my mom to travel from Cleveland, OH to the site at the time of the crash. With the help of the wonderful people of Unionville, MO my family and I visited the crash site October 2001 for the first time. We are hoping that with the continued help of the great people of Unionville and family and friends of the victims, we will be able to have a memorial placed in Unionville, MO someday soon.

Duane Crawford said...

My name is Duane Crawford, and I live in Unionville, Missouri, only four miles from where Continental Airlines Flight 11 crashed on May 22, 1962. At the time of the tragedy I was in the Marine Corps in Hawaii and never knew it happened.
After my service and move to Unionville, I eventually took up writing as a hobby. Local folks urged me to write about Flight 11. I’d read the book and watched the movie based on the tragedy. I quickly learned, through witnesses to the crash and thorough research, that there was far more to the story than Hollywood and the author provided.
In the summer of 2001, I interviewed real witnesses to the crash and conducted an exhaustive research of the facts from reliable sources. I then wrote an extensive account of the crash, published it in our local newspaper and eventually published it in a local history book. Then 9/11 happened!
During early October that year, the Maurice Hamilton family contacted me and came here to meet witnesses to the crash and to get peace of mind. Maurice, a World War II veteran like most on the plane, had a lovely wife, four daughters and a son. They are an absolutely wonderful family, and we still communicate. While here, they were given the “red carpet” welcome. I interviewed each of them. After their departure, I wrote another story titled “Life After Dad” and published it in the same history book. We still communicate often.
People ask why I never contacted the media when the Hamiltons’ came to visit. My concern was the family. I now regret that I didn’t. Some of the key witnesses are now deceased, and I’m grateful they were able to relate their memories to me in 2001.
Why hasn’t a memorial been erected? Some efforts have been made on the local effort, but we needed outside help for such a project. Jim Ried of KOMU in Columbia, Missouri, was the latest to bring the crash to national attention. He came here in October 2008 and conducted interviews. I appreciate his efforts.
Recently, KTVO in Kirksville, Missouri has expressed an interest in the story. The network intends to do more. In the meantime, I am taking the initiative to get a memorial built.
My wife and I are pledging $1,000 for the project. On November 20, I am meeting with the Board of Directors of the Putnam County Historical Society and Museum. I intend to recommend that a committee of respected citizens be formed to solicit funds, select the site and determine the design. If they agree, I will give them a $1,000 check and recommend it be placed in an account under “Flight 11 Memorial.”
Though I will not be on the committee, I will provide public relations and whatever assistance they need to get the job done. One thing I will definitely do is notify Continental Airlines that they have a moral obligation to make a significant contribution to this project.
For those who will eventually want to donate to this noble cause or have questions, my e-mail address is Crawford@nemr.net. Do not send donations! If the Historical Society agrees to my proposal, and I think they will, I will then be able to provide an address and other information regarding contributions.
The Hamilton family will visit our community again in the spring of 2009. Hopefully, as a result of the Internet, other families can come. This time the media will be invited!
With help from generous Americans we can help the Flight 11 families find some measure of closure and peace of mind.

Mercruiserdr said...

Very early in the morning before the main crash site was discovered the Appanoose county sheriff contacted my grandfather and asked if he would take his plane aloft at sunrise and attempt to spot the wreckage.

My grandparents lived just north of the Centerville airport at that time and both my Grandfather and my Father owned planes.

Upon getting the call from the Appanoose County Sheriff my Grandfather contacted my dad and he awoke me and off we headed for the Airport.
I would have been roughly five years old at the time.

As we arrived My Grandfather Charlie Gardner and his friend Dawson Bennet had just returned from spotting the wreckage.

My Grandfather , My Dad and I all jumped into his pickup and headed for the crash site.

Dawson went to the terminal building to contact the Sheriff and relay their discovery.
I have no idea if Dawson was the first person to contact authorities with the location or not.

I barely remember anything about the crash site, I do remember looking into the main fuselage , and I also remember the gruesome sight of the bodies on the ground and strung in nearby trees.

Years later I would only remember this ordeal in visions I had while sleeping, I for some time thought I had dreamed it all.
However it kept reoccuring to me.

I finally mentioned it one time while chatting with my Mother, and that is when she told me it was not something I dreamed , I had actually been there, She and my father then filled me in on the details I have related here.

Duane Crawford said...

On November 26, Kirksville, Missouri’s KTVO, Channel 3 (ABC), aired a segment about the Continental Airlines Flight 11 crash that occurred here on May 22, 1962. Several local residents including myself were interviewed. We also visited the crash site.

The previous week my wife an I donated $1,000 to the Putnam County Historical Society to begin the process of establishing a memorial for the 44 passengers and 8 crew members that were killed by a domestic terrorist. Early the next day the Historical Society rented a P.O. Box for the purpose of receiving donations to establish the memorial. The address is:

Continental Flight 11 Memorial
Putnam County Historical Society
P.O. Box 152
Unionville, Mo
63565

Checks should be payable to: PC Historical Society (Flight 11 Memorial)

Let’s hope we can help all the families of these unfortunate victims achieve some peace of mind. The Maurice Hamilton family is indeed anxious. For family members who wish to meet me, have questions, or visit the crash site, please contact me at my email address: crawford@nemr.net.

J Dennis said...

My wife and I lived in Las Cruces , NM from 2001-2006. In a house that we purchased in Las Cruces we found a picture of a DC-3in flight which says "Continental Airlines---serving the west and southwest with DC-3 luxury airliners." This picture is signed by "pioneers" of Continental Airlines. One of the signatures is "Freddie Gray". Would this be the pilot of the 707? If so I would be happy to make a copy of this photograph for the family. The picture is approx 12" x 17".

J Dennis said...

Fredianne,

please contact me thru this site so that we can speak if you would like a copy of this picture.

Duane Crawford said...

The Putnam County Historical Society and Museum in Unionville, Missouri, has agreed to pursue efforts to establish a Flight 11 memorial in Putnam County. A committee will be formed in the near future to determine the specific site and design.
Efforts by the Museum are already underway to raise funds. Anyone wishing to contribute should make checks payable to the Putnam County Historical Society Flight 11 Fund and mail to PC Historical Society, Box 152, Unionville, MO 63565. For questions you can call me, Duane Crawford, at (660) 947-2387 or e-mail me at Crawford@nemr.net. You may also verify these efforts by contacting our newspaper, the Unionville Republican at (660)-947-2222.
Since my last comment on this blog, the daughter of the pilot and the daughter of a passenger have contacted me. I sincerely hope that others will come forward. The family of Maurice Hamilton and I frequently communicate.
For those who do not know, W. Mark Felt was the special FBI agent who investigated the Flight 11 tragedy. He revealed in 2005 that he was Deep Throat, the secret source who told Washington Post reporter Bob Woodward what happened during the Watergate scandal. He died on December 18, 2008.
For any family members of those passengers and crew members who perished in the Flight 11 crash, I encourage you to contact me. My goal is to unite as many as possible. And I will make myself available to any of them who want to visit here.

mateo dekoatz said...

Thank you for this site. My father, Rex Thomas was killed on the flight. My mother, Nora Joann Thomas was crushed by this crime. I was nearly 4 years old, and my sister, Melissa was nearly 9 years old. I remember my mother and sister crying every night for years. Thank you to all who have added comments. I will notify my sister about this site. May God bless you and all the families who have suffered from this crime and from all crimes.

melissa said...

My brother Matthew notified me of this site. I was almost 9 years old when this horrific crime occured. I have never found peace.

Melisss Ruck

Maureen Riordan said...

Melissa would you please send us your email address - We would like to send you more information. mhriordan@hargray.com. - crawford@nemr.net
Thank you

nbastats said...

On May 4, 2009, I sent a letter to the CEO of Continental Airlines requesting that Flight 11 be retired, which is still in use on its daily flight from Paris-Houston. The response from Continental was received on May 21st, the day before the 47th anniversary of this tragedy. I am extremely pleased to report that Continental has agreed to retire Flight 11 later this year. If interested, I will be happy to post my letter and their reply.

Maureen Hamilton Riordan said...

WOW! Thank you so much for sending the request to Continental to retire "Flight 11". That is a wonderful tribute to the memory of our loved ones! I would love for you to post your letter and their reply. THANK YOU!

saabflyer said...

This is amazing news guys!!! I was ALWAYS surprised that Flight 11 was still used. This really is fantastic news!!!

Duane Crawford said...

J. Dennis,
Please contact me at crawford@nemr.net rgarding your 4 December 2008 comment. Tomorrow, June 1, 2009 I will meet Captain Gary's nephew. I will ask him about the DC-3 luxury airliner. I'm also in contact with other families of those who died on Flight 11.

Thanks, Duane

ralphb said...

This post is amazing to me. I would like to say to the son and nephew of Freddie Gray how sorry I am/was about your father. He was one of the best pilots CO ever had and I am proud to be able to say I had met him and knew him at work and rode with him. My sympathy, all though years later goes to all the families of passengers and crew, most of whom I knew.

Every year about this time I remember CO11, I was the 'departure agent' or the person who checked those passengers in, assigned seats, did the meal orders, gave the counts and took care of all that stuff. As I was wrapping up my paperwork for 11 that night I picked up our internal open line to check status and our flight control in LA and the agent from KC were on the line saying we had 'no report from 11.' That began one of the worst and yet driven nights and days of my life. I won't go into the details here but my function was to seal the records and begin locating home or family contacts for all passengers so a CO rep could go to them personally. Unfortunately, in that quest I also woke some family members and it was very emotional for me and them. At age 21 what do you say to a family who has just lost someone and they don't know it yet. Tracing passenger contacts in those days did not include computers. I also knew several of the crew and they were all great people. The FBI came in and within days had identified Dode as apparently he had purchased dynamite within a few days of the flight. To those that have any pictures, I would not mind getting copies. At the time I was 21, working for CO in my first real job. CO was the Route of the Proud Birds' and it was one of the best airlines in the world - then.

The irony, about 18 months later when I got married my new wife and I rode flight 11 from Chicago to LA on our honeymoon. She had never flown before and we still have the champagne glasses that the crew served, it was an airline with class and I am proud to say I worked there for over ten years.

My contact is: rboester@optonline.net

nbastats said...

Here is the letter sent to the CEO of Continental Airlines:

May 4, 2009

Mr. Larry Kellner, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer
Continental Airlines
P.O. Box 4607
Houston, TX 77210-4607

Dear Mr. Kellner,

I am writing to ask your help with a long overdue request. The sensitivity of this subject warrants a letter addressed to you directly.

On May 22, 1962, a tragedy occurred over the plains of Iowa when the flight crew and passengers of Continental Flight 11, flying from Chicago O’Hare to Kansas City, were victims of the first sabotage of a commercial jet airliner. Captain Fred Gray, his crew of seven and 37 passengers died that night in a field in Unionville, Missouri.

My wife’s father, Marcus Coleman Brand, was a passenger on that flight. He left behind a widow, a daughter and a son. My wifewas 4-1/2 years old and has just a small memory of her father. My brother-in-law was an infant. My now-deceased mother-in-law was left to raise two children after a passenger on that flight decided to end his life with sticks of dynamite in the waste bin in the rear lavatory.

Local efforts are currently underway to establish a memorial at the sight of the crash. The lead FBI investigator was Mark Felt, who went on to be known as Deep Throat.

I would like to ask that Continental Airlines consider this request to retire flight number 11. Continental Flight 11 is still in use today on the Paris-Houston daily flight. I believe it is standard procedure in the aviation industry to retire flight numbers involved in fatal accidents. Given the historical significance of this particular flight, your consideration of this request would be most appreciated.

Sincerely,

nbastats said...

The following response was received from Continental Airlines, appropriately enough, the day before the 47th anniversary of this tragedy.

May 18, 2009

Dear Sir:

Thank you for your letter dated May 4, 2009 and addressed to Larry Kellner, concerning Continental flight 11. We too are saddened by the tragic events that occurred on May 22, 1962, and we'd like to apologize for the oversight in the continued use of flight number 11 on our Paris to Houston route, and appreciate you bringing this to our attention.

Per the request, we will be retiring flight number 11, effective October 24th, 2009. The timing is driven by several factors, including our desire to inconvenience as few passengers as possible, as a flight number change will cause current itineraries to be cancelled and then re-booked.

Should you have any further questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact me at the number below.

Sincerely,

(signed by the one of the Directors of Continental Airlines)


Followup: I called this man to thank him for this wonderful news. He said that this request started their review of all Continental flights to ensure there were no other oversights. You may know that American flight 11 was one of the planes which flew into the World Trade Center towers on 9/11/2001. There is no coordination amongst the airlines to retire flight numbers across the industry. Each airline does this independently.

May the retirement of Continental flight 11 give peace to those who lost a loved one on May 22, 1962.

Dan Sullivan said...

Following a recent news article about the 1938 TWA crash in Yosemite National Park I decided to check some of the online info about this crash and came across this blog. I grew up in Kirksville Missouri, about 25 miles from the crash site. I did notice something the blogger mentioned in one of his posts that I thought I might comment on. He mentions that if the tragedy had occurred in Cincinnati if more would have survived. The Cincinnati in reference of the tragedy is a rather small community with current census just over 400. I don't know if there was any confusion with it and Cincinnati Ohio. If not, sorry for my comment on this.
I am a high school history teacher in a neighboring county to Putnam County and hope to share some of this historical importance with my students. Duane Crawford mentions something about there being print and video documentaries on the tragedy. I would be interested in knowing the titles of these works. I think it is good that Putnam County is working on a memorial for this tragic event and that our local television station is also getting involved. That would be fitting in paying respects to those innocent individuals that lost their lives that evening.

Sam said...

I had forgotten about the crash. Lived about 60 miles away at the time. Was in high school.
--
I was just up to Unionville MO museum and saw their display.
--
Has anyone placed any connection between Continental 11 and American 11 (one of the planes that hit the World Trade Center on 9/22)? I wonder if there is any significance.

saabflyer said...

In regard to Dan's post, sorry if I did sound confusing. I was looking at a map of IOWA and thought that Cincinnati was just that much closer to Centerville than Unionville is. As I understand Centerville is a larger town than the other two. I would imagine it would have had better facilities for situation. However I'm not sure of the exact driving distances not being from the States myself and apreciating the vastness of the country. Also at the time I must confess I thought Unionville was merely a locality of widely dispersed farms with no urban area whatsoever. I had visions of a couple of farm houses as opposed to Cincinnati where in actual fact Unionville is far larger today than Cincinnati. Once again I apologize for that piece of confusion but mere assumptions led me to that conclusion.

Traveler621 said...

For no apparent reason, memories of this Continental crash came to mind a few days ago. That led to me finding this blog.

I can add a couple of trivial bits to the conversation. I was 12 years old when this happened and living in Centerville. With regard to whether there would have been any “benefit” had the plane come down closer to Centerville, no, not really. Centerville was a town of about 5000 at the time and had one hospital. The hospital was not very large so the arrival of more than six or seven casualties would have overtaxed the facility.

I remember three things about Mr. Doty. He bought as much insurance as he could at O’Hare. He was flying with his secretary. He put the bomb in the waste bin in the lavatory. I cannot vouch for the veracity of these three things. They are what I remember being told at the time.

The Appanoose County Sheriff’s office went to the homes of various people in Centerville that owned station wagons to enlist their help in moving the victims. We owned a station wagon. I remember my dad leaving and coming back. He did not say anything about where he had been or what he had done.

Those are my memories.

nbastats said...

As of today, Continental Flight 11 has been officially retired by Continental Airlines and will no longer be used.

kat1216 said...

My father died on this flight. I was 6 months old, my sister was 4. My daughter was asking me questions about the flight I couldn't answer and I decided to google it. I'm amazed not only to find this blog but to learn the number was retired yesterday. Thank you so much.

kat1216 said...

Our family was completely devastated by the death of my dear father Jack Alexander. I really appreciate this blog and the work done to retire the number. Thank you Katherine Alexander Lee

nbastats said...

Katherine,
Duane Crawford is the resident historian in Unionville and he is leading the local effort to establish a memorial. His email address is included above. You should contact him directly and he can provide more information, if you are interested.

saabflyer said...

Plans for the memorial are progressing wonderfully as I understand it...I can't believe this blog has come so far and done so much; simply from an aviation enthuasiasts curiosity it has remembered that awful dark day in 1962...I'm glad I started it and I'm glad that people will finally remember this in the decades to come.

Howard said...

My wife and mother-in-law were supposed to be on that flight.

Here is her story.

When I was about two months old my mother Emily and I were traveling from Memphis, Tennessee to Springville, Utah to visit my Grandmother Mabel and Grandfather Kenneth Brown. This was our first trip from home visiting relatives since my birth. This would also be the first time my Grandma and Grandpa on my fathers side would have an opportunity to see me.

Our first flight took us from Memphis to Chicago where we had a few hours lay over there. During the layover mom decided she would feed me before we got on our next flight. Mom fed me some baby food beets. Apparently the beets did not agree with me and I threw up all over my outfit.

Mother took me to the bathroom to clean me up and change my clothes. When she was done cleaning me up and had changed my clothes we went back to the gate where we were to catch our flight, but the plane had already left. We had missed our flight!

The ticket agent made arrangements for us to take another flight which would be leaving in about an hour later. Mom sent my grandparents a telegram to let them know that we had missed our flight and we would be taking a later flight. We made the next flight as arranged and arrived safely in Salt Lake City later that night.

The next day my mother heard on the radio that the airplane we had missed had been in a crash and everyone had been killed. She doesn’t remember ever hearing any more details about the accident.

Jump ahead to April 3, 2010 and with a search on the Internet we find the details on the Continental Airlines Flight 11 that went down in Unionville, Putnam County, Missouri on May 22, 1962

saabflyer said...

Amazing Howard...I have heard stories like this from a couple of others who have contacted me. I appreciate your contribution. At present, in case you didn't know, a memorial is going up in the town where CO11 came down thanks to some great local support and the dedication of Mr Duane Crawford, a local historian in Unionville, MO. Thank God you weren't aboard...very lucky indeed.

jenwillie said...

My sister in law lost her father on this flight. At the time, I believe he was a naivagator She had three older brothers and herself left with their hearbroken mother. With in two years he mother died of a broken heart. Due to other family circumstances,the three younger kids were placed in an orphanage in Chicago.This disaster crippled this vibrant family.I remember my sister in law saying that every night her mom would take all the kids to the airport to pick up their father, On this specific night they waited hours and hours for any news of their dad. Let's just say none was ever good. This tragedy needs a memorial fot those that lost so much, here both parents, due to the crash, to have some sense of rememberance and closure. a place to make it real. I don't know his first name, but his last was Waffle. I think amemorial for the remainder of his familt would bring some peace for all they lost

hsmom22 said...

I grew up in Centerville, IA. Cincinnati is about 12 miles south of Centerville. I heard about that crash a lot during my growing up years. My mother was 8 months pregnant with me and she remembered the crash vividly. She was outside @ the time and said she was so startled she stepped in a hole in the yard. After I got older I looked for information on the crash and there is not much. A classmate from high school posted the link to this blog. Centerville's historical museum is creating a display for the crash. They have a piece of the fusilage and a couple of armrests from the plane. And lots of eyewitness accounts.

RCulpitt said...

My Aunt, Stella Ann Berry, was a stewardess on this flight. Needless to say, this event devastated my family, especially my grandmother.

My husband and I are planning on attending the memorial on 5-22-10 and hope to see/meet some of you there!

Rhonda (Berry) Culpitt

saabflyer said...

Hi guys...yes I cannot believe that the memorial is happening...I hope this brings peace to you all...I will not be attending the memorial due to university commitments but I will be sending by best wishes via Mr Crawford in a statement for those attending the memorial. It has been a long road to travel folks and God Bless you all

JStarr said...

I was amazed to find this blog and to hear the stories of so many people connected to this tragedy. Here is mine.

My father worked for Continental Airlines after serving as a pilot in the Army Air Corp during WWII. He started with Continental when it was a mere hint of the airline it would become. My dad talked fondly about one of his first jobs. He ran back and forth between the ticket counter checking passengers in and out, and the airstrip to flag the next plane in. A job with many hats, he said. He loved aviation and he loved working for Continental. Eventually he became a dispatcher and it was more than a job to him. It was his life.

I was just 11-years-old on May 22, 1962. I remember standing by my mom in our living room the day after Flight 11 went down, listening to my dad trying to talk. Looking at his face, I understood for the first time the reality of someone being literally stricken with grief. He said that we had lost a plane. There was much discussion about the weather because no one knew about the bomb yet. The weather issue bothered my dad, because dispatchers were responsible for factoring in weather problems as a part of the flight plan. The flight had been re-routed to avoid bad weather, and I could tell that my dad was struggling to make sense of what had happened. Finally my mother asked who we had lost. I knew instantly that she meant the crew. The airline was small back then and all of its employees seemed like a part of our own family. The look on my father’s face, the pain in his eyes when he tried to answer, was awful to see. He was a gentle, soft-spoken man with a deep, low-pitched voice that was often hard to hear. He lowered his eyes, bent his head down and spoke into his chest so that I could barely understand him. All he said was ‘The pilot was Freddie Gray.’ That one sentence held a depth of grief and loss that I still cannot adequately describe. It was clear that he thought the world of Captain Gray. I think my mom started crying then, and I know they talked more about the rest of the crew. But my child’s mind, unable to grasp any more details, held on simply to that one name. It has stayed with me my entire life. Later, when more of the details came out, I remember someone saying that the landing gear was down at the time of the crash, and I thought ‘My god, they were trying to land the plane…they were trying to land what was left of that plane.’ The crew members became my life-long heroes. In the days that followed, I am sure the same scene was repeated in the homes of everyone connected with Continental. The grief, the anger, the mourning - for the crew, the passengers, and the families of both. It was an incredibly sad time, and an incredibly brutal reality to try to somehow comprehend. We all felt it.

A lot was lost that day. For me, it was a sense of complete safety and security that I had always felt when flying. Before that day, I got on every flight confident because of the way I knew the people of Continental did their jobs. I saw these people often - the flight crews, the cabin attendants, the counter agents, the mechanics working on our planes right there in the hanger where my dad’s office was. They were wonderful people. I believed in every one of them. Then May 22nd happened, and suddenly there was an X-factor in the equation that had never occurred to me. I doubt that it had occurred to many people before then. I never felt the same happiness and confidence while flying again. In a strange way, it became the marker that ended my childhood. What I did retain was pride in our people and in the amazing job they always did. And, most especially, pride in those particular people, on that particular day. I am deeply glad that they will all – crew and passengers alike - finally have their memorial. They deserve to be remembered. They deserve a place in our hearts.

Thank you for this site and for what it does to honor all of their memories.

saabflyer said...

JStarr...truly an amazing story you have to tell there of an era in aviation so different from today and an insightful personal journey for you as well. CO11 affected so many people in so many different ways from all walks of life and all facets of Continental and the wider general public. It continues to affect those today. That is why we now have a memorial in Unionville where the 707 came down...we can now recognize those who were lost and we can recapture that brief yet tragic moment in time that had been forgotten for far too long.

echo said...

I just found your blog. I was encouraged to try a search for info again after seeing the ABC Chicago report on the crash 5/23. I had given up almost 5 years ago. It is so satisfying to know others are finally interested in what was a real turning point in aviation history and standards, as well as in so many lives, including mine.

My father, Robert Calvin Gach (32) was a passenger on that flight. I was almost 8, my brother turned 5 two days later, and my mother was 29. They had been married less than 10 years.

He was a senior consultant with the accounting firm Peat Marwick Mitchell, and traveled weekly for almost three years. For me, it was "just what dads do" and he always came home.

The incident itself, as well as the week or so following, is something my mind has blocked out all these years. All I know is from what my mother's parents have told me. They also kept any newspapper articles, court papers, CAB and FBI reports, for which I am ever grateful. From these papers I found that Thomas Doty was an ill man, both physically and mentally. Witnesses said he had been heard to say many times that if things dind't work out for him he would kill himself and take as many people as possible with him. His widow and children have always been in my prayers.

My mother was used to his flying, and had gone to bed early the night of May 22. As usual, she woke to WGN on her clock-radio. This day she heard news of the dissappearance of my father's flight. My grandfater tells of her calling him - crying and hysterical. Unable to understand her, he woke grandma saying only "Hurry and get dressed. Something is terribly wrong at Joyce's and we have to go over now".

My brother and I were very sheltered, our grandpa stepped in as surrogate daddy (and did very well). Still, I continue to have nightmares and strange dreams each May, and whenever I fly (which is quite often) I have learned not to use the rear lav. I have panic attacks if I try.

I need to end this story by saying that my mother is as strong a woman as I know. She never let us see her cry or feeling down. She has often said that without her Lord, her family and so many friends she doesn't know how she would have made it. She has always been determined to move forward rather than to look back and live in the past. She remembers and treasures her time with my father with love. She did all she could to make our lives normal and happy. I learned a life lesson from her actions that no one could have taught me thru words only.

In 1966 she remarried a most wonderful man. I now have a half brother who is a doctor with a Christian clinic in Hinsdale and has effected many lives all over the world. And because of him I met my love, and have been married 15 years now.

----One last thing/question. Was there any concerted effort to locate the families to advise them of the memorial? My folks still live at the same address as 1962, swo it should have been easy. Even though, we plan now to visit the memorial as soon as we can.

Judy G said...

My father and I attended the Flight 11 Memorial Service in Unionville Mo on May 22nd. Wonderful ceremony. At the time of the crash, my father was in the Centerville National Guard. He was called out in the wee hours of the morning under a State of Emergency to help remove the bodies of the victims. Being a young man at the time, you can imagine how that task affected him. He had never mentioned this much to us, as I was growing up, until now. We are looking for other members of that Guard unit to connect with, and possible correspond with. My family will be here over the weekend and we plan on visiting the Unionville Museum on Saturday as well. If anyone knows of anyone who was in that Guard Unit, please get ahold of me. My email address is gpaints@iowatelecom.net and my father is Wayne Lindley.

Mary said...

my b/f lives in the area and sent me this lnk..This is a wonderful blog and i just wanted to say that It's wonderful what The historial society and you are doing for the victims and their families.To all the families although i do not know you,but i say a prayer for all of you and the ones you lost that day.God Bless all of you,from Arkansas usa.

Leisa said...

My dad was called that night to help go and search for bodies. I remember he said it was like nothing he had ever seen before. Bodies were everywhere some missing parts. He volunteered with the fire depart. I have the Kansas City Star newspaper clipping from 2006 from the section of FYI. My dads name was Ronald.

efcdees said...

need blogger echo to email me have some pictures of his father bob gach and other family. efcdees@yahoo.com

Doug West said...

I was 11 when flight 11 went down.My friends dad was on that plane.I remember learning about the crash and how all our lives changed.My friends dad had been transferred to Chicago and my friend would be moving soon.He ended staying in Merriam Ks.for a few years more attending K.U. and eventually moving to Colorado where I lost contact.I often think of him,his mom and dad.I missed them all over the years.Time heals but you never forget.I think of you often Bruce.

Cheryl said...

My Uncle Beauford Carter was killed on that flight. He was my mother's brother and to her great shock she learned that an old friend of hers (a woman she had worked with) was also killed on the same flight. My mother had not spoken with her for some time as we had moved from Harrisonville, Missouri where they knew each other a few years previously. This woman and my Uncle (who was from Kansas) did not know each other. This woman was married but supposedly had been carrying on an affair with the man who left the bomb. So it was thought to be a double suicide pact. I believe my mother learned this info. from the woman's widowed husband who she went to visit shortly after my Uncle's funeral. I have no Idea if this info. was ever made public or was even true, but I remember vividly hearing that the bomb was smuggled on the plane in her overnight case. This was a terribly ironic situation for my mom to handle, needless to say. I remember there were articles about it in the Kansas City Star. I was 13 years old at the time.
Cheryl O'Neil

Cheryl said...
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Z said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Z said...

Naomi C. Doty, age 81 of Shawnee, Kansas passed away December 11, 2008. She was the wife of Thomas G. Doty who died in 1962. http://www.amosfamily.com/2008/12/naomi-g-doty/

dhcomet said...

Z, this is absolutely fascinating. A huge missing link has been provided to us here. Thank you so much. May I inquire as to how you came across this material?

scottl said...

This is the first time I have been on this blog and find the comments very interesting. In recent months I have viewed other websites regarding this horrific crash.

I was from the same small home town in Colorado as Co-Pilot Dean Allen - he was several years older than me. An older sister of his married a cousin of mine. At the time of the crash I was a college junior and I still remember very vividly my mother calling to tell me and then my also reading details in 'The Denver Post'. I know that Dean's family is somewhat aware of the memorial and I will direct my cousin's children to this blog. If historians and researchers would like contact information for some of his relatives please contact me. Dean's wife is still living at this time and is now in Arizona although they lived in California at the time of the crash.

Ironically Dean's sister, who married my cousin, has told me that Dean felt that perhaps he was the person who sold the ticket at Denver's Stapleton Airport to the John Graham for his mother's flight on the ill fated United Airlines plane which crashed near Longmont, CO November 1955. This man was eventually executed for his role in that crash. A book about that plane crash is 'Mainliner Denver'.

Another irony is that Dean lost his life near Unionville, a locale that his mother had family ties to.

LScott ~ scottl@plainstel.com

Brooklyn- said...

Hi everybody. I am really touched by everyones comments here and what they have been through. Being a Sept 11 survivor myself, I have taken a bizarre interest in planes and aircraft tragedys. Ironically,despite this fascination, I cannot stand the sound of one near me and just the sight of one near me has me in a panic. I look at airplanes totally differently now, isnt that strange how tragedys can have a weird impact on ones life? Now this is NOT to say that I am a believer of the official story of Sept 11 and what we have been told (I know first hand of their lies) the sight/site of airplanes I think will always have this effect on me. I feel such compassion for any victim and their families. I hope I have not offended anybody by not staying totally on subject (Flight 11) and I hope everyone has joyfull and prosperous lives. Take care everyone, be safe. Enjoy your life!!!!!!!

Brooklyn- said...

Hey again, I found this newsclip and Memorial about Flight 11. Thought ya'll might like to have it.

http://www.kmbc.com/r/24410014/detail.html

roxanne said...

How strange this is. The Dotys lived in Antioch Hills in Merriam, Kansas, a new subdivision built in the late fifties. We moved in in January 1960, a block away from the Dotys. The neighborhood was new and full of fun and promise. There were often parties--lubricated by alcohol, I now see--but I remember the place as almost idyllic. The whole Doty affair was very hush-hush--we children weren't told much about it. I remember that Mrs. Doty, the bomber's wife, stayed in the neighborhood for a long time, but the house had a closed-up, neglected air. I never met Mrs. Doty although I must have known her children. In that same neighborhood of just six or seven blocks, a young woman hung herself, a man died of a heart attack at age 33, and most awful, one of my sister's classmates was killed, along with her four siblings and the family dog, by her father, who also died that day in the garage of carbon monoxide poisoning. I think that the mother had died of cancer and he was desolate. Two mass murders within a few blocks. But we didn't speak of these things. I was reading the endnotes of "The Boy Who Fell Out of The Sky" and came across the reference to Flight 11.

dhcomet said...

Roxanne - truly fascinating to learn of your "connection" to Flight 11; it puts you very close, albeit inadvertently to what transpired. Mrs Doty died not that long ago. It sounds like the area was rather unfortunate to have had so many tragic and/or bizarre events occur in a short space of time. I can understand that back in the 60s the Doty and Flight 11 affair would have been kept very low profile as was the rule in those days really. Today the Doty's would more likely have departed hastily or been "twittered/facebooked" out of town as happens to people in this day and age in the light of unpleasant circumstances. I do thank you for sharing this memory; it truly is remarkable and helps us to paint a better picture of the day.

Cheryl O'Neil said...

My mother is the sister of Beauford M. Carter who was killed on the flight. I was 13 at the time and remember well the events of that time: the funeral, the headlines, and ironically the fact that although they knew absolutely nothing of each other, the "secretary" girlfriend Jean Fraley was a former workmate and friend of my mother's. I remember that we learned of the affair between her and Doty after Mom went to visit and pay her respects to Jean's husband who told the whole story. You can imagine my mother's shock. The story I remember is that the bomb was smuggled in the luggage that Jean carried on board.

dhcomet said...

Cheryl; many thanks for your post. It is indeed a "small world" and as you say, your mother must have been rather overwhelmed when she learnt of Miss Fraley's death and subsequent connection to Mr Doty...and even more amazed that her former friend's lover would be the one who killed her brother. It was indeed an awful thing that happened.

jessica sullivan said...

My grandfather was first officer Edward J Sullivan. My father, second to youngest out of 6, was barely 3 when it happened.

dhcomet said...

Jessica...thanks so much for posting on the blog...Mr Sullivan (your grandfather) was the last of the flight crew member where we hadn't heard form the next of kin. I understand you and your father are now in contact with Mr Duane Crawford. He is the local historian who has pushed for the memorial in the town of Unionville near where Flight 11 crashed. My role was to place this horrendous act on the internet in the form of this blog. You can contact me @ dhcomet@gmail.com.

Andrew Russell

NP said...

This was a tragic event and I want to share a little information which I've not shared before now. I grew up in the same neighborhood as the Doty's (Antioch Hills). I was born in 1962 and my family moved into Antioch Hills in 1965. For those who didn't know Doty's wife was pregnant at the time of this tragic event and she remained and raised her 2 kids there. As I became older I became friends with Doty's son. I knew nothing about the event. As a young boy it was evident he didn't have a dad and I asked him why. Rightfully his mother protected him from the horrible truth of what his biological father did. As I matured into a teenager I heard the story and was sworn to never share it. As time went by we became very close friends. After many years I asked again what happened during a trip we went on together and his reply was always consistent...is dad died in a crash caused by a storm. I was 18, the Hyatt Regency accident had just collapsed during our trip and my manager had just been killed in the tragedy. I couldn't comprehend the fact that all these people had just died I such a tragic accident including my manager. It was overwhelming. During one of our long drives while on this trip I decided at some point I needed to share what I had heard his biological father had done.. He and I were 18 and I felt I owed it to him so during a long drive I shared the story as I heard it. At that time the Internet didn't exist, so all i had back then were framents of the story. I shared how the FBI determined his dad had checked out books on how to make a bomb at our local library and why his backyard was so bumpy. It was because the authorities had dug up their yard looking for evidence. I'm sure it sounded like a terrible story and I felt horrible telling him. he was in total disbelief. He was steadfast it was a storm that brought down the plane. It had been 18 years and he was never told the truth. Upon returning home from our lengthy vacation I learned he soon hit the libraries and researched it. We never spoke of it again and it was another 30 years later that i finally learned of all the details. This was a very tragic event and no unborn child should ever carry the burden of their biological father being such a horrible person. I still feel bad being the one to break such awful news. I later was his best man and although we no longer keep in touch he is a good person and nothing like his biological father.

dhcomet said...

"NP", thanks so much for this fascinating post. It certainly must have been hard for you to tell him the not-so-pleasant truth. I believe Thomas Doty's son continues to live in the area but I'm in no way certain. Even today this blog remains one of the sole major references on the internet to the destruction of Flight 11. However as time has gone by there have been numerous news items, interviews and press releases about it. I personally attended the 50th anniversary memorial service in Unionville and was truly taken aback by the accounts of what had happened near the town 50 years ago. It's thanks to Mr Duane Crawford (a local historian in Unionville) that the memorial was built and people finally remember this historically significant and utter tragic occurrence. At any rate your information/story is extremely unique and interesting. I've also been in contact with some people who knew Thomas Doty Senior many years ago and it seems the family name has had that notoriety ever since. You can contact me personally at dhcomet@gmail.com if there's anything else you wish to discuss or feel free to post it here. Also I would like to add that I don't blame the Doty children for anything their father did and from my point of view there shouldn't be any animosity towards them as it was beyond their control. And as a further and final note I believe Mrs Doty (Naomi) passed away about four years ago.

COLLEEN RINGELSTETTER said...

Dearest DH
My second cousin Stella Ann Berry was one of the flight attendants on flight 11. According to family stories, Ann(which is what she was called) was found 2 miles away still strapped in her seat. I can neither confirm or deny this as I wasn't born until 1964,and my mom (who is 87) is somewhat of a poor historian. I have a photo of Ann Berry in her uniform & I remember looking at it a lot as I grew up,because my 2nd cousin was a beautiful woman who's life had such a tragic ending. Thank you for posting this on your blog.

COLLEEN RINGELSTETTER said...

Dearest DH
My second cousin Stella Ann Berry was one of the flight attendants on flight 11. According to family stories, Ann(which is what she was called) was found 2 miles away still strapped in her seat. I can neither confirm or deny this as I wasn't born until 1964,and my mom (who is 87) is somewhat of a poor historian. I have a photo of Ann Berry in her uniform & I remember looking at it a lot as I grew up,because my 2nd cousin was a beautiful woman who's life had such a tragic ending. Thank you for posting this on your blog.

dhcomet said...

Thanks so much for adding this info Colleen.

Unknown said...

This is such a nice blog to be able to read the bits and pieces of every ones memories. I have become friends in the last couple of years with Dean Allen's wife Jean. She is such a nice and inspiring woman. And I know to this day she still mourns the loss of her husband. She never did remarry. She said once you have had the sun everything else just pales in comparison. Thank you to whoever have put time and money into getting a memorial site. Let us never forget all the ones whose lives that have been cut short by senseless acts! Find a peace in forgiveness.. God bless.

Unknown said...

This is such a nice blog to be able to read the bits and pieces of every ones memories. I have become friends in the last couple of years with Dean Allen's wife Jean. She is such a nice and inspiring woman. And I know to this day she still mourns the loss of her husband. She never did remarry. She said once you have had the sun everything else just pales in comparison. Thank you to whoever have put time and money into getting a memorial site. Let us never forget all the ones whose lives that have been cut short by senseless acts! Find a peace in forgiveness.. God bless.

dhcomet said...

thanks so much for your post. It is touching to read. I have had the pleasure of staying in Colorado with Dean's niece and her son.

N.E. Reiter said...

As someone posted earlier, I wasn't sure this really happened until I found a link on Facebook. I was 8 years old and remember the sheriff coming to our Wellman IA farm to pick up some paper debris my dad had found. Although far from the crash site, apparently we were on the flight path. I remember it was a stormy night and never knew it was a bomb. That part was either suppressed or simply unconfirmed at the time. Of course there was no cable news or internet. So it took me more than 50 years to heart this full story.